pushmedia1
9.30.2005
  Über lame Mr. Wolfram
Apparently, the only way to get Mathematica to output graphics as EPS is to "save as special->tex" and then hunt down the converted image files. Lame. Über lame.
 
9.29.2005
  Heh
Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing.
He concludes by saying: 'Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed.'
'OH NO!' the President exclaims. 'That's terrible!'
His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, 'How many is a brazillion?'
 
  Brad DeLong, I just don't get him
For some reason, his rss feed has been broken so I haven't been able to keep track of his weblog. Brad's a Berkeley professor, he served in the Clinton White House and he often gets on my nerves. As a matter of fact, I wish I had a filter that would remove everything but economics from his blog... That said, it was fun watching him defend Bill Bennett, who Brad describes as a "hypocrite, a loathsome fungus on the tree of American politics, a man who has worked unceasingly to make America a worse place." And then it was this parenthetical at the bottom of his post that put me on the floor.

(And, while we're at it: never get involved in a land war in Asia; do not read My Pet Goat when death is on the line; never play poker with a man named 'Doc'; never accept a battle of wits where iocane powder is a factor; never blithely download and install a file from Microsoft without carefully, carefully researching what it will do beforehand; never get involved in an argument over Noam Chomsky; and never post about human genetics on you weblog.)
 
9.27.2005
  Daniel W. Drezner :: Serenity review
Daniel W. Drezner: "So go see the goram movie"
 
9.24.2005
  Firefly
I didn't quite make it through the whole series of the show firefly, yet. But I'm definitely going to have to before the movie, named Serenity, comes out...

This show is pretty damned good and I hope the same for the movie. It's made by the same guy who did Buffy which was pretty good, especially the first couple of years. Even though the acting isn't the greatest, the story and the characters make up for it. Just like Buffy, Firefly has really cool characters, each with their own mystery and quirky history. Mal, the captain, is well acted, Buffy-like in his great leadership but human in his fallibility and humor.

The crew is similar in eccentricity as the 'scooby gang' in Buffy. Each is an individual, none blindly follow the captain, yet all are loyal. You have a professional soldier (Zoe) married to an ace pilot (Wash... what's his backstory?). You have a country girl innocent (Kaylee), that happens to be a genius with the old mechanics of the ship, and best friends with a prostitute (Inara) . There's a doctor (Simon) with his mysterious sister (River... is she the next slayer?) and of course, the crew wouldn't be complete without its rogue, its boy named Sue (actually named Jayne).

The prize for most intriguing yet annoying character is the mysterious 'Shepard'. Ostensibly a preacher but there's something else going on... Why does he know so much about weapons and combat and why does he have connections with the alliance? The character is only annoying because its so poorly acted... Can anyone say Zander?

Anyway, the movie's coming out next week. Go see it. Watch the series. Do both.

 
9.14.2005
  Are you sure?
Are you sure President Bush is "a man of small motives, a man incapable of personal sacrifice, a man who seeks and uses his office to augment, never to diminish, himself"?
 
  Data
Here's some data to back up my claim "linear growth of supply has never materialized in the over 200 years since Malthus"

Update: Look at that... Even more data. One way to measure sustainability would be to see how much economic activity we get per unit of energy (i.e. watts or barrels of oil).

Here's econobrowsers chart:
 
9.08.2005
  Housing the Katrina victims
Alex at MR passes on the following. This is a good idea...

Ed Olsen at the University of Virginia, one of the country's leading researchers on housing, sent me the following proposal to immediately expand HUD's Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program. It's a brilliant proposal that needs attention at the highest levels of government. Pass it on.

Alex

HOUSING THE POOREST HURRICANE VICTIMS By Edgar O. Olsen

What the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina need most now is housing. Hundreds of thousands of families are now living in temporary housing and shelters, sometimes little more than tents, throughout the south central region. These families cannot wait for new housing to be built.

Fortunately, new construction is not necessary to solve the immediate problem. Enormous numbers of vacant units in the region are available for immediate occupancy by families with the ability to pay rent — and a simple expansion of HUD’s largest housing program would provide even the poorest families with the means to rent these units.

The rental vacancy rate in the United States is at a historically high level. For all metropolitan areas as a group, it is over 10 percent. The largest metropolitan areas in the south central region have some of the highest vacancy rates – 15.6 percent in Houston, 14.4 percent in San Antonio, 12.8 percent in Dallas, 12.2 percent in Memphis, 13.1 percent in Birmingham and 18.5 percent in Atlanta. Vacancy rates for smaller metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas are also at historically high levels. In short, many rental units in the south central region and throughout the country are available for immediate occupancy by people with the ability to pay the rent.

Fortunately, no new federal program is required to match families suddenly needing housing with an existing stock of vacant apartments. The United States government already operates a program that would enable low-income families to pay the rent for these units. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program currently serves about two million families throughout the country. It enables participants to occupy privately owned units renting for up to, and somewhat above, the local median rent. Enormous numbers of vacant units could be occupied immediately by families with these housing vouchers.

Congress could show its bi-partisan resolve to respond to this emergency housing crisis by acting promptly to authorize a sufficient number of additional Section 8 vouchers to serve the poorest hurricane victims.

Since many victims have had to travel quite a distance to obtain temporary shelter and many will have to move further from New Orleans to obtain permanent housing within a reasonable time, these vouchers should be available to any public housing agency in the country to serve families displaced by the hurricane. To avoid delays in getting assistance to these families, the vouchers should be allocated to housing agencies on a first-come-first-served basis and any low-income family whose previous address was in the most affected areas should be deemed eligible. We should not take the time to determine the condition of the family’s previous unit before granting a voucher.

Getting the poorest displaced families into permanent housing is an urgent challenge. It requires bi-partisan support for Congress to act promptly, quick action by HUD to generate simple procedures for administering these special vouchers, and housing agencies in areas of heavy demand to add temporary staff to handle the influx of applications for assistance. Even with the best efforts of all parties, the proposed solution will not get all the low-income families displaced by Hurricane Katrina into permanent housing tomorrow. However, it will be much faster than building new housing for them. And it will show them that the federal government cares about their plight and is working to do what it can to help.

 
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